Held on the first Saturday of September every year as the monsoons have just ended and the cool, crisp autumn weather is just starting to set in as the heat of summer fades, it is a perfect time to race. An extremely challenging mountain bike race that takes participants through central and western Bhutan, covering 268 kilometers of absolutely stunning Himalayan landscapes
ARRIVAL TO PARO, BHUTAN
Welcome to Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon. Upon landing at Paro International Airport, you will be greeted by your guide as you exit the arrivals hall. Today, we will slowly acclimate to the altitude. Get a taste of Bhutanese cuisine for the first time before visiting Rinpung Dzong, which locals call the “Fortress of a Pile of Treasures”. Next, head to the first national museum called Ta Dzong located on the mountainside just above Rinpung Dzong.Then drive north to Paro valley . We will visit Drukyal Dzong, built in 1647 by the great Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan.
PARO TO BUMTHANG
Altitude 2600m – 4000m
Morning domestic flight to Bumthang, one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the center of Buddhism in Bhutan. One day hiking in Tamshing Goemba, built in 1501 by Buddhist saint Pema Lingpa. Next, visit Kurjey Lhakhang, one of the holiest monasteries in Bhutan.Built by Guru Rinpoche in 1652, it contains a stone bearing the imprint of his body. Head to Jambay Lhakhang, built in 659 by Tibetan King Sontsen Gampo to destroy a demon that had hindered the spread of Buddhism in . Next, visit Jakar Dzong, built as a monastery. convent in 1549 by Zhabdrung’s great-grandfather.
TOUR DU DRAGON, BUMTHANG TO THIMPHU
Altitude 2,320 m
Today is Tour du Dragon mountain bike racing day. Starting from Bumthang in central Bhutan, the race spans 268 km through four high mountain passes from 1,200m to 3,340m before ending at the Clock Tower in Thimphu, India’s capital, western Bhutan.Follow Bumthang Chhu 2,610m then climb Kiki La 2,950m to Yotongla 3,425m and to Pelela 3,390m, followed by Dochula 3,116m. After Dochula, all the way downhill to Thimphu 2,320m with a small climb pointing to the
clock tower in Thimphu town square.
In the morning, drive to Kuenselphodrang Nature Park and admire the 169ft bronze statue of Dordenma Buddha, Vajrayana Buddha makes it one of the many statues. The tallest Buddha in the world. Then, meet the older generation while circumambulating Chorten National Monument, dedicated on July 28, 1974 in memory of the Third King. Chorten means “seat of faith” and Buddhists often refer to these relics as the “mind of the Buddha”.Next, visit Thimphu Dzong, the “Glorious Religious Fort of “, built in 1641 and restored by the third king Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the 1960s. Then continue to the Academy. Zorig Chusum, also known as the school of the thirteen arts.
THIMPHU TO PUNAKHA
Dochula Pass – 108 palaces built by the current Queen Mother of Bhutan Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck to celebrate Bhutan’s victory over Indian warriors and freeing souls lost soldiers.
Chhimi Lhakhang – A 20-minute walk through terraced fields past the roadside village of Sopsokha to a small temple on a hill in the heart of the valley below Metshina. Ngawang Chogyel built the temple in the 15th century after Drukpa Kuenlay, the “mad god” built a small temple there.It is a pilgrimage site for infertile women.
Punakha Dzong – Built in 1637, the dzong continues to be the winter residence of the clergy, headed by the Abbott patriarch, Je Khenpo. It is a wonderful example of Bhutanese architecture, located at the confluence of two rivers, painting the image of a medieval city from afar. Dzong was destroyed by fire and ice floods for many years, but has been carefully restored and is today a fine example of Bhutanese craftsmanship.
Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten – Built by the Third Dowager Queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon wangchuck, this Chorten is a superb example of Bhutanese architecture and art and one of the most unique in the world. world.It was built over eight and a half years and its details are taken from religious scriptures.
PUNAKHA TO GANGTEY TO PUNAKHA
Phobjikha valley is famous as the winter home of the Black-necked Crane (Grus Nigricollis). Bhutan is home to about six hundred black-necked cranes, with Phobjikha being one of the popular places where these birds migrate during the winter months from the Tibetan plateau. Elegant and timid birds can be seen from early November to late March. It is an old monastery dating back to the 17th century.Today we are going to take short trips around Phobjikha Valley. Return to
Punakha for the night.
PUNAKHA TO THIMPHU
Go to the Heritage Museum built to connect people with Bhutan’s rural past through an exhibition of items used in rural households . Then you will witness the art of paper making at the paper factory and the traditional art of weaving at the textile museum. En route to the lookout point on Thimphu is home to Bhutan’s national animal, the Takin, a strange beast that some say looks like a moose stung by a bee.Eight kilometers from Thimphu, on a high ridge, stands Simtokha
Dzong, the oldest fortress in the Kingdom.
THIMPHU TO HAA TO PARO
Drive to Haa via Chele La (3988m). From the pass you can see Paro Valley on one side and Haa Valley on the other. You can also picnic at Chele La if you want. In Haa, a few tours then visit Katsho village and visit Katso Lhakhang.Haa valley was only opened to tourists in 2002 and Haa is the least visited valley in Bhutan due to lack of tourism infrastructure. This has helped keep Haa like that, with
Bhutanese families living their simple, traditional lives. There are no standard tourist hotels in the Haa Valley, so we returned to Paro for the night.
After a day of hiking, perhaps you should explore Paro’s main street and check if there’s something you want to buy back as a souvenir!
An hour’s walk to the Dining Hall is also a vantage point from which you can enjoy the beautiful view of Taktsang Monastery.Prayer flags adorn the cliffs and this is where Guru Padmasambhava landed on the back of a tigress in the 8th century. After a hearty local lunch, we will return to visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan.
Today we will say goodbye to this beautiful Himalayan country and take an early morning flight back to Singapore. We hope you’ve made friends and have many great photos and memories of Bhutan! And we look forward to seeing you again in this endlessly enchanting land of beauty!Tashi Delek!